Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Zachary Quinto gay?...
The old is-he-isn't-he? debate often rages about hunky male stars. Some people swear blind he is and have seen him in gay bars or gone out with him and others swear blind he's not. To be honest I'm not sure I like this "he's-too-hot-to-be-gay" argument I see all too often. But nice to see a clip of him snogging a man in a sauna in so NoTORIous. Or if you prefer, some shots from the same scene. Woof!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Night Out...
Last Friday night Stu, Dawn, Andrew, Jane and I went out for a 'quick drink'. Needless to say the wheels fell off the evening after a couple of beers. A bar crawl ensued taking us to various dives around this fair city. Great fun. Some snaps below. More snaps here.
IQ Test: my answers...
01. Which one of the following is least like the other four?
Celery - Lettuce - Onion - Grape - Asparagus

Grape. It's a fruit and the others are vegetables.

02. Emily is four years old. Her big sister Amy is three times as old as Emily. How old will Amy be when she is twice as old as Emily?

16 years old. Amy is currently 12 years old so in four years time Emily will be 8 years old and Amy will be 16 years old.

03. Bowl is to cereal as envelope is to?
Mailman - Stamp - Letter - Mailbox - Mailbag

Letter. The second goes in the first.

04. What would the next number be?
2...3...5...8...12...17...??

23. Add 1, add 2 etc...

05. WOLF to to FLOW as 8526 is to:
2856 - 6258 - 5862 - 5682 - 6852

6258. Numbers reversed.


06. If you rearrange the letters UGNAIA, you have the name of:
a river - a planet - a city - an animal - a plant?

Iguana.

07. Niece is to nephew as brother is to:
Cousin - Aunt - Mother - Daughter - Sister

Sister.

08. Let's say that the following arguments are true:
Some gatekeepers are warriors
Some warriors are cowards
Therefore, we can conclude that some gatekeepers must be cowards.
Is this conclusion true or false?

False.

09. That would be the next number in this series:
15...12...13...10...11...8...??

9. Subtract 3, add 1, subtract 3, add 1 etc.

10. Which of the following five is least like the other four?
Smile - Grin - Frown - Touch - Sneer

Touch. All the others are facial expressions.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

IQ Test...
Back in 2002 I published a simple IQ test from BBC. I've had a few people ask me what the answers are recently (!) See how well you do and I'll give my answers later.

When Alfred Binet, the French psychologist, started to develop intelligence tests in 1904 he had no idea what he had started. What was later to become the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests are really only applicable to children. But it doesn't stop the rest of us wanting to have a go. Here are some straightforward IQ questions. Let me know how well you do.

01. Which one of the following is least like the other four?
Celery - Lettuce - Onion - Grape - Asparagus

02. Emily is four years old. Her big sister Amy is three times as old as Emily. How old will Amy be when she is twice as old as Emily?

03. Bowl is to cereal as envelope is to?
Mailman - Stamp - Letter - Mailbox - Mailbag

04. What would the next number be?
2...3...5...8...12...17...??

05. WOLF to to FLOW as 8526 is to:
2856 - 6258 - 5862 - 5682 - 6852

06. If you rearrange the letters UGNAIA, you have the name of:
a river - a planet - a city - an animal - a plant?

07. Niece is to nephew as brother is to:
Cousin - Aunt - Mother - Daughter - Sister

08. Let's say that the following arguments are true:
Some gatekeepers are warriors
Some warriors are cowards
Therefore, we can conclude that some gatekeepers must be cowards.
Is this conclusion true or false?

09. That would be the next number in this series:
15...12...13...10...11...8...??

10. Which of the following five is least like the other four?
Smile - Grin - Frown - Touch - Sneer

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arsenal 7-0 Slavia Prague...
Paul and I went to see the sublime Arsenal play in the Champions League last night at the Emirates. They commanded the game from start to finish. Magical. And to cap it all Theo got his first (and second) goal - the youngest Englishman to score a Champions League goal. It was a pleasure and a privilege to watch the game. Apparently a season ticket for the Arsenal is currently the hottest ticket in town.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Star Trek...
So Star Trek's 11th big screen outing is in the works. And with JJ Abrams at the helm it's bound to be good.

The current cast list are; Chris Pine (Captain Kirk), the gorgeous Zachary Quinto (Young Mr Spock), Leonard Nimoy (Older Mr Spock), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), John Cho (Sulu) and Karl Urban (Leonard 'Bones' McCoy).

Funny to see the original Uhura (Michelle Nichols) turning up in Heroes the other week along with many other sci-fi luminaries.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Head, master?...
JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay.
Arsenal 2-0 Bolton ...
Paul and I went to the Emirates on Saturday for a rare 3pm kickoff. A disppointing first half but we picked up in the second. A good result. But blimey Bolton are thugs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

G.I. Jonny...
The BBC and THT have got together to promote HIV awareness in the run up to World AIDS Day on Dec 1st. In a very slick way: G.I. Jonny.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

British Airways vs Pam Ann...
British Airways goes all viral on our arses. With Pam Ann no less. Sleeping with the enemy? Quite good though.
[Thanks Guy]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Leigh on Sea...
On Saturday Stu and I drove out east to Leigh on Sea. We had a great time nosing around Kerry and Fergal's new gaff, then Ange arrived and we all went to lunch with Fay and Andy and Sheila and Martin. We got to see Fay and Andy's new place too. All great fun to see everyone and catch up with their news. There are a few snaps below and more here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hairspray...
Last night Stu and I went to see the new staged production of Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's glitzy West End. And what a wow it was.

We sang and we laughed until tears rolled down our my cheeks. We'd seen the New York production earlier this year but this was way, way better. And it certainly put the film into the shade.

The energy on stage was quite incredible. It was almost exhausting to watch all the dancing and jumping about. The acting and singing was just perfect. The set design was spot on too. And boy did we like the sound. You could hear every word sung and every line of dialogue. Something other theatres should ruddy well focus on.

Newcomer Leanne Jones was just brilliant as Tracy Turnblad. She is on stage pretty much constantly for two hours and was never less than excellent for a single moment. Michael Ball as Edna Turnblad was an utter star - believable as a fat woman and delivering a perfect comic performance. Mel Smith as Wilbur Turnblad was funny, perfect for the role and who knew he could sing so well?

The original score is by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman who co-wrote the music and lyrics for the acclaimed animated musical South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and it is as witty and laugh out loud funny as that film ever was.

As I was saying to Stu on the way home (with suitable post-show euphoric hyperbole), "seeing shows like that is one of the reasons why we live in London".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thomas Dolby...
Last night Ben and I went to see Thomas Dolby at the Carling Islington Academy. Ben had organised the tickets and it was great to spend the time with him.

Dolby was promoting his new live CD/DVD The Sole Inhabitant which is sort of a greatest hits live.

Like Roger Hodgson the night before Thomas Dolby a true musician and a gifted song writer. His medium happen to be synthesisers and samples but some of his songs are really very beautiful. We were treated to all the hits including The Flat Earth, Airwaves, the fabulously titled (and witty) Your Karma Hit My Dogma, Europa And The Pirate Twins, She Blinded Me With Science, One Of Our Submarines and Hyperactive!

He had some interesting anecdotes too. Like when Trevor Horn had finished touring about South Africa with Malcolm McLaren and recording riffs for the Duck Rock project he had some riffs left over. So over a spliff one day Horn, in his big scientist-from-Blade-Runner glasses, says to Dolby, "want this riff?" And Dolby took it. Spliff riff.

As a surprise at the end of the gig we were treated to a guest appearance by Lene Lovich. She and Dolby sang Sway as a duet. Great fun.

My stand out track of the night: I Scare Myself

Funniest bit of the night: when Lene Lovich came on stage and after the initial applause had died away Ben shouted out from the gallery, "Are you still mad?" The place fell about. As did she.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Roger Hodgson...
Last night Paul, Guy, Cesar and I went to see Roger Hodgson (formerly of Supertramp) at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a right old flashback to my youth with such anthemic hits as Take the Long Way Home, Give a Little Bit (twice), The Logical Song, Even in the Quietest Moments, Breakfast in America, If Everyone Was Listening, Dreamer, It's Raining Again and many others. We were also 'treated' to some of his solo work which wasn't have bad; Lovers in the Wind, Along Came Mary, Love is a Thousand Times and Oh Brother.

Playing more or less solo Hodgson rightly earns the title of a one man orchestra. With either guitar, electric or traditional piano he created an impressive wall of sound. Standout songs for me were both from the Crime Of The Century album; Hide In Your Shell and the sublime School. Fab night out.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Year of the Sequel...
In looks as if 2008 will be the year of the sequel; the long awaited Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the not really wanted The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the much anticipated The Dark Knight and the bound to be fabulous Hellboy 2: The Golden Army have all popped up on my radar. Mind you, 2007 seemed to be the year of the threequel; the disappointing Shrek the Third, the awful Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the not as good as the first two Spider-Man 3 and the truly dire Rush Hour 3.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Twiglets...
Last Friday I went over to see Ben, Sarah and the triplets. Everyone was in a fine form. They have just had their garden landscaped and it looks great. Sarah cooked us a lovely lunch and afterwards we went for a walk and a runabout in Crystal Palace park. Below are a few snaps I took. More here.
Arsenal 3-2 Sunderland...
Paul and I went to the game on Sunday. And a close game it was too; missed opportunities, two off the post, a disallowed goal and a sending off. We had the run of it though so a fair result.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Criminally Bent...
A fortnight ago I got a call at home. A man with a thick Scottish accent asked me to confirm my name. He couldn't continue the telephone call unless I confirmed my name. Why? I hesitated. And then he asked me to confirm my date of birth. And then the first line of my address. Naturally I was reluctant to give any of this information (hello? identity theft?) but after a bit of umming and ahhing I finally gave them to him. That seemed to satisfy him so I asked him what the call was about. He said he was from a company called AIC - a debt collection agency - and was telephoning on behalf of Lloyds TSB. According to their records I owed them £28,500.

Frankly I was stunned. I'd not been in debt for years (ok, apart from my mortgage) and last time I checked my bank accounts were hovering in the black not the red. I questioned the guy, trying to get some sort of confirmation that it was really me he wanted. He was nothing short of rude, abrasive and evasive. As far as he was concerned he had got his man and it was his job to make me pay up. I did suggest that maybe he'd got the wrong person but he said, "then why do I have your telephone number and how come your date of birth and postal address all match?". He had a point. I was a bit flumoxed. All I could say was, "I'm sure there's been some sort of mistake." He put me on hold a few times while he 'checked his records' before conceding, "Well, it *may* be a mistake but apart from your middle name everything matches." Then he hung up.

I called Lloyds TSB later that day and they had no record of any such debt. Or of my details being passed to any debt collectors. I was concerned, but not overly. A simple mix up that would sort itself out. How wrong I was.

The following week AIC called again. This time I'm out so they left a voice message again demanding payment. And threatening court action. Yikes! Luckily this time they left a reference number.

So the following day I go into the Lloyds TSB branch in Islington and ask to speak to a bank manager (you could hear the sniggers). "We don't have bank managers any more, sir. Can I help?" said Mr Cheery Man behind a counter. An hour and a half later we were both still in one of the side offices of the bank still on the telephone trying to find out hat was going on. Mr Cheery Man had called just about every single possible department in Lloyds TSB up and down (and out of) the country. Brighton... Scotland... Bangalore... you name it. As least he believed that I wasn't actually in debt (hey, he had my account details in front of him) so his mission was to try to find out who had erroneously referred me to the debt collection agency. Mr Cheery Man starts each call the same way, "Hello there. I'm staff. I have sitting next to me a very good customer of ours..." but doesn't seem to making much progress.

Until finally a breakthrough. He's tracked down the person who forwarded my details to the debt collectors. A Mr Alan Ingeldew. But... he's out of the office so we're left hanging as to why he's done so. D'oh!

Fast forward a week and I've now had a letter threatening to take me to court, a telephone call saying it's being 'dealt with' and I've tried to chase this Ingeldew guy to find out why exactly they think I owe them money and ask for a letter admitting they've made a mistake.

Grrrr.
Brain teaser answer...
Down and out

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Songs of Mass Destruction...
Annie Lennox's fourth solo album Songs of Mass Destruction is out and you can see the video for Dark Road here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Holiday in the UK...
Did you know that the statutory holiday entitlement in the UK has just changed? From 1 October 2007 the entitlement will increase from four weeks to 4.8 weeks (24 days if you work a five-day week). A further increase to 5.6 weeks (28 days if you work a five-day week) will take place from 1 April 2009. The bad news is that all eight Bank Holidays are included in that total.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Say You’ll Be There!...
I've just got Spice Girls tickets. For Sunday 16th December 2007 at the O2. Yay!
My Weekend...
When I was at infant school each and every Monday morning we had to write something in our dark red writing books. That something was always entitled "My Weekend". Our rather uninspired form teacher Miss Hammond was probably suffering from a hangover and it was her way of keeping us quiet for an hour. To write what we did over the weekend. Now most seven year olds weekends are a matter of routine so the usual drivel was spouted, copied forward from the previous week; "Dad took us swimming on Saturday morning at Hatfield Pool. A big boy splashed me", "Mum took us shopping at the Howard Centre. Boring" and the classic "We went to Granny's house for lunch on Sunday. We had to behave".

So it is with some glee that I can report that this weekend just gone was not a matter of routine. On Friday Marcus invited round to dinner at his to meet the new addition to his family, Martin. Martin is an eight month old kitten and very handsome too. And "why the name Martin?" we asked. Think Little Britain and the college administrator calling her superior, "Hello Martin, it's Linda".

On Saturday, after I'd had my run in with the bank (more on that later), Andy and Kevin treated us to a night out at the IMAX. We went to see Transformers. Great special effects. Perhaps less great was the plot. Fun though.

After the cinema Stu and I went to Duckie. Three great acts; a traditional drag act dressed rather appropriately as The Queen, then we had the original Walker On The Wild Side Miss Holly Woodlawn and finally Miss Hula Hoop (think Malcolm Mclaren's double dutch meets hula hoops).

On Sunday Stu's mum and dad and rest of his family came over to his and we had a lovely afternoon eating, drinking, chatting and laughing. I finally got to meet his brother, sister in law, nephew and niece. And very nice they all are too.

So that was 'My Weekend'. Take that Miss Hammond.